Author Archives: George Simmers

After many years as a teacher, I retired and began researching for a Ph.D. on the fiction of the Great War – especially the books, stories and plays that were written during the War or immediately afterwards.

A decade of blogging

I woke this morning to an email congratulating me to the fact that this blog is ten years old today. I really hadn’t realised. Occasionally I get fed up with commemorations and anniversaries, but here is one that I suppose I ought to mark. Ten Years. Quite a while.

Arnold Bennett on the House of Windsor

I spent yesterday at the Manchester Central Reference Library (where I enjoyed many hours when I was a student in Manchester during the 1960s). I was looking at wartime copies of the New Statesman, and especially at Arnold Bennett’s column ‘Observations’, which he wrote over the pen-name ‘Sardonyx’. The columns are gossipy and lively, and […]

Lake Rudyard – the Geneva of the Potteries

The two writers I’ve been thinking about this year are Rudyard Kipling and Arnold Bennett. So I was delighted to come across a BBC web feature that links the two. It’s about Lake Rudyard, a popular beauty spot in the Potteries, and if you like Bennett’s novels you’ll enjoy the photos of pleasure seekers who […]

Soldiers singing, at the end of the war

Last year I was working on a chapter about soldiers songs for the forthcoming Edinburgh Companion on the First World War and the Arts. Yesterday I came across a paragraph that I wish I’d seen before  finishing the chapter. It’s from the New Statesman, October 19, 1918:

The Oxford Vigilance Committee

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about Arnold Bennett’s novel about wartime prostitution, The Pretty Lady, so was delighted to come across a webpage referencing the November 1916 Oxford Vigilance Committee, and its report on the immorality of wartime Oxford. The committee sees prostitution as a ‘permanent social disease’, but the war is creating conditions […]

English Words in Wartime

Readers of this blog may also be interested in ‘English Words in Wartime’, a blog that looks at ways in which the Great War changed the language. It looks especially at the words noted by that splendid diarist the Rev Andrew Clark, who set himself to describing the effects of war on everyday life, and […]

Ivor Gurney

This is just a note to say that Tim Kendall’s excellent documentary, ‘Ivor Gurney: The Poet who loved the War’, is now available to watch in full on Vimeo:

What soldiers shouldn’t read

I’ve read some good articles over the years about the reading habits of soldiers in France, and the literature supplied to them. What I hadn’t considered much before was what they were discouraged from reading. Here’s Arnold Bennett, writing in February 1919,  about the committee who ran the Camps Library, and made sure it did […]

An Officer’s Grievance

An anecdote from Arnold Bennett (New Statesman, December, 1918) The other day I met a British officer who had been wounded nine times, captured by the Germans while in a state of unconsciousness, and in England reported killed. He seemed to be perfectly well and perfectly cheerful. But one matter had aroused his resentment. It […]

Edgar Wallace as War Poet

Edgar Wallace was once the best-known and best-selling author in Britain. His thrillers caused sensations and were read by just about everyone. His plays packed theatres.  His sales in Germany and elsewhere were immense, too. Is he still read, except as a curiosity? I don’t think his thrillers have worn as well as Sapper’s. He […]

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